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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Present Age

By Revolutionary Songs and Ballads

[The New Hampshire Gazette. 1779.]

OF all the ages ever known,

The present is the oddest;

For all the men are honest grown,

And all the women modest.

Nor lawyers now are fond of fees,

Nor clergy of their dues;

No idle people now one sees,

At church no empty pews.

No courtiers now their friends deceive

With promises of favor;

For what they made ’em once believe

Is done and done forever.

Our nobles—Heaven defend us all!

I’ll nothing say about ’em;

For they are great and I’m but small,

So muse, jog on without ’em.

Our gentry are a virtuous race,

Despising earthly treasures;

Fond of true honor’s noble chase,

And quite averse to pleasures.

The ladies dress so plain indeed,

You’d think ’em Quakers all,

Witness the wool-packs on their heads,

So comely and so small.

No tradesman now forsakes his shop,

For politics or news;

Or takes his dealer at a hop

Through interested views.

No soaking sot forsakes his spouse

For mugs of mantling nappy;

Nor taverns tempt him from his house,

Where all are pleased and happy.

Our frugal taste the State secures,

Whence then can woes begin?

For luxury’s turned out of doors,

And prudence taken in.

From hence proceeds the abundant flow

Of plenty through the land;

Where all provisions, all men know,

Are cheap on every hand.

No pleasure-chaises fill the streets,

Nor crowd the roads on Sunday;

So horses, ambling through the week,

Obtain a respite one day.

All gaming, tricking, swearing, lying,

Is grown quite out of fashion;

For modern youth’s so self-denying

It flies all lawless passion.

Happy the nation thus endowed!

So void of wants and crimes;

Where all are rich and none are proud,

Oh! these are glorious times.

Your characters (with wondering stare

Cries Tom) are mighty high, sir;

But pray forgive me, if I swear,

I think they’re all a lie, sir.

Ha! think you so, my honest clown?

Then take another light on’t;

Just turn the picture upside down,

I fear you’ll see the right on’t.